Ice Network

'One step at a time': Ge prefers to take things slow

Uzbekistani skater fills summer with choreography, sports management
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Last season, Misha Ge soared to heights that surprised even himself. -Getty Images

For most skaters, the summer months consist of resting, performing in shows and preparing for the next season.

Misha Ge filled his offseason with a bit more activity.

The 24-year-old Uzbekistani has made a name for himself for his unique style and creative approach to his programs, and because of the way he's able to connect with an audience, he has managed to attract a worldwide following. But not many people know about some of his other pursuits.

Ge has done choreographic work for several renowned skaters and acclaimed ice shows, including Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao's tour in China. He also has experience in the sports management realm, assisting Beijing with its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics (which it won).

Throughout all this, Ge has been working hard to get ready for the 2015-16 season. The skater acknowledges that it will be tough for him to top last season, when he finished a career-best sixth at the world championships in Shanghai. He insists, however, that he will do everything in his power to show improvement.

Icenetwork talked with Ge about his eventful summer, the pros and cons of living in two different cities and his expectations for the coming season.

Icenetwork: This summer you've taken part in a lot of ice shows. Tell us about them.

Ge: I was really busy as a performer, choreographer, coach and manager. I've been traveling to many countries...sometimes, I even couldn't remember where I was in the morning.

This offseason I've worked with skaters on their programs and exhibitions, in China, Taiwan and the U.S. Also, I held my own skating camp in Taipei for their (national) team. After that, I worked on two things at the same time: choreographing my programs and galas, and organizing the Beijing Olympic 2022 bid ice show, "Passion of Ice and Snow." I was responsible for all the skaters' invitations, documents, contracts and many other things.

Then I took part in "The ICE" show in Japan. It was a great experience, with full stadiums for all 11 shows and an amazing cast and crazy fan support. I'm really happy I had the opportunity to be a part of it.

Icenetwork: How is your preparation for the new season going?

Ge: Preparation is going step by step. It was a busy offseason for me, but even with a busy schedule, I kept working on training and making improvements. There are a lot of great skaters who are constantly making improvements; I try to go with the "one step at a time" rule.

Icenetwork: You choreographed both your new short and free skate programs. Why did you decide to do them yourself?

Ge: My mom, Larisa Ge, has been a skating choreographer for many years, and she works with many national teams. Little by little, I started to learn from her, and then gradually I began working on little pieces, which later became whole programs.

I also help other skaters around the world with choreography: Riona Kato and Daisuke Murakami of Japan, Zi Quan Zhao of China and others. Plus, I took part in choreographing performances for the Cup of China gala exhibition and the Artistry on Ice shows.

Although I've received positive feedback for my work, I understand that I still have much to learn. So, I'm taking a choreography course at the Beijing Dance Academy and the Hollywood Dance Academy. I want to continue to improve my work in order to make programs better and better.

Icenetwork: There are lots of great musical pieces for skaters to use. What criteria do you use when choosing yours?

Ge: I spend many months researching and discussing music with my team and international specialists. It takes a long time to find something that meets all the criteria. You want to pick something unique and that you can use to create a real piece of art, as well as something that helps you improve on the ice.

Icenetwork: What work have you done on the technical side of your skating?

Ge: I've spent a lot of time this summer on the technical aspect, on improving all the elements and making the jumps more difficult. I'm trying to make my technique better every day, little by little.

Icenetwork: You train in two cities, Los Angeles and Beijing. How much time do you spend in each one? Does it ever get exhausting and complicated?

Ge: It's pretty much 50/50. It's really great living in two great cities, but it can also be exhausting having to adjust to different training schedules, different customs, different people around you. It's hard to communicate with people and family on another continent, with such an extreme time difference.

Sometimes you need to switch your head from one country's thinking to another in a second. But I think it's also something that makes me stronger. It gives me a greater understanding of two very different cultures.

Icenetwork: You were extremely happy when Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Are you planning to be involved in this event somehow, considering that China has a special place in your personal history (Ge is part Chinese)?

Ge: My life motto is: "One step at a time." There are many years between now and then. Presently, my goal is to improve and to compete one season at a time, and then we will see.

I hope to compete at the 2018 Olympics, and I really hope to be a part of Beijing 2022 -- maybe not as a competitor but as a part of the organizing team or as a choreographer/coach.

Icenetwork: Two years ago you told me that issues with travel documents and European Union visas always took up a lot of your time and caused you a lot of headaches. Do you still have those bureaucratic problems?

Ge: Everything is still the same. All visas and travel documents I'm doing myself, with no changes or additional support. Sometimes it can be very problematic, but there is no alternative.

With all the experience and problems I've been through with my documents and visas, my friends sometimes joke that I should open a travel agency.

Icenetwork: You showed a lot of progress last season, both in terms of your scores and placements. Do you expect more from yourself in the coming year?

Ge: Last season was the best season I ever had in my skating career. When I was little, my parents always taught me to see things with a "realistic view," and so I do that now. I'm always thinking about those words.

My family had a wish: to see me in the top 10 at worlds. Not because they do not believe I can become a champion but because there are many real factors that are not easy for us and are beyond our control. For me, a skater from a small country with (largely only) my parents' support and teaching, it's really hard to achieve great things. I don't have a big support team following me -- doctors, massage therapists, fitness trainers, etc. -- like skaters from big countries do.

All the work is basically done by my family, my coaches/parents and me.

After 20 years of skating, and with so much of my parents' hard work, help and patience, we got a result higher than we wished for: sixth at the 2015 World Championships. For some people, such a result might not be a big deal, and I understand that, but for me and my parents, it was like getting first place.

The new season might not be like the last one, and that's OK. But I will do my best to improve all aspects of my skating and be better than I was last season.